Cargill steps into the booming alternative meat sector

The agri-food giant is launching plant-based hamburger patties and alternative meat products in direct competition with start-ups Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods

Cargill Inc says it will launch plant-based hamburger patties and meat substitute products in April. The company aims to challenge start-ups such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods for sales in supermarkets, cafeterias and restaurants.

The 155-year-old agri-food company will offer customers soy protein or pea protein-based patties and ground products, which retailers will be able to sell under their own labels.

Cargill is known for trading crops such as corn and cocoa as well as supplying ground beef. It has now branched out in the booming "fake meat" sector with a $100m (€92.46m, £77.54m) investment in pea-protein maker Puris, a supplier to Beyond Meat.

Along with soy protein, pea protein is one of the main ingredients of fake meat.

Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and other companies making meat alternatives that mimic real beef, chicken or sausage have tapped into the trend for flexitarianism.

That’s the name used to describe the growing number of consumers who are trying to cut down the amount of meat they eat, either for health or environmental reasons.

Eighteen per cent of US consumers are trying to eat more plant-based foods, according to American research company NPD Group.

Beyond Meat became a public company in May 2019, when it debuted on the Nasdaq at $45 per share. By July, those shares had soared more than 430 per cent due to the growing demand for alternative meat.

The California-based start-up has been able to mimic meat so closely that its products are sold alongside real meat in supermarkets rather than vegetarian food.

FURTHER READING: Beyond Meat stock price: will its shares make a comeback?

FURTHER READING: Are cultured-meat companies a good future investment?

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